Atom Egoyan's 12th feature film offers a typically kaleidoscopic rumination on voyeurism, videography, the relative nature of truth, and the aftermath of tragedy. It's closer in form and tone to the Canadian auteur's early work (particularly his 1987 masterpiece Family Viewing) than to his erratic recent literary adaptations (Felicia's Journey, Where the Truth Lies). Egoyan's wife and frequent muse, Arsinée Khanjian, occupies the central role here as a high-school French and drama teacher who encourages a bright pupil (Devon Bostick) in an elaborate fabrication. Inspired by a classroom translation of a news article about a Jordanian man who attempted to blow up a commercial airliner with a bomb hidden in his pregnant girlfriend's luggage, the boy claims the story as that of his own deceased parents—a lie that quickly goes viral and takes on even more bizarre dimensions when the teacher (for reasons Egoyan holds close to the vest for most of the running time), disguised in a face-covering burka, pays a house call on her student and his blue-collar uncle (an excellent Scott Speedman). Never short on ambition, Adoration has no lack of interesting things to say or interesting ways to say them, but the longer it runs, the more you feel Egoyan working up a sweat to deploy the same effects—Pinterian abstractions, fractured timelines, shifting points of view—that he once made seem effortless. The end result is a movie considerably more absorbing to talk, write, and think about afterward than it is to actually watch.
Rachel Blanchard and Noam Jenkins are among Egoyans cryptic figures.
Opens at Varsity, Fri., June 26. Rated R. 101 minutes.